Archive for the ‘Ecumenism’ Category

Pictures That Say a Thousand Words – What Would the Reformers Think of Them?

The following photos are an assortment taken from stories we have written or posted over the last three years.

July 2017

Leaders of the World Communion of Reformed Churches sign copies of the declaration in the Saint Mary’s City Church in Wittenberg, Germany, expressing support from Reformed churches for the Catholic-Lutheran Joint Declaration on the Doctrine of Justification. (Credit: Photo courtesy of WCRC/Anna Siggelkow.)

2014 at the Vatican, Italy

Pope Francis speaks at an inter-religious conference on family values at the Vatican on Monday. Saddleback Pastor Rick Warren, bottom right, sits in the audience.

 

2014

Pope Francis with several evangelical leaders including James Robison, Tony Palmer, and Kenneth Copeland

2014

Vatican Happy About the Way Christianity is Going? – “Christians Mark Reformation Anniversary in Westminster Abbey”

LTRJ Note: Posted for informational and research purposes only.

From Vatican Radio

Christians of all different denominations gathered in London’s Westminster Abbey on Tuesday to mark the 500th anniversary of the start of the Reformation movement. The midday service, led by the Dean of Westminster, Dr John Hall,  featured a new anthem, commissioned for the occasion by Danish composer, Bent Sørensen.

It also included the official presentation by the Archbishop of Canterbury of a resolution from the worldwide Anglican Communion which welcomes and affirms the 1999 Joint Declaration on the Doctrine of Justification (JDDJ) between the Catholic Church and the Lutheran World Federation. Last year the World Communion of Reformed Churches also signed up to the declaration, while the World Methodist Council did the same in 2006. . . .

Anglicans have been invited to join Lutherans and Catholics around the world in marking 2017, including Tuesday’s celebration at Westminster Abbey. Gibaut says the passing of the resolution, together with its formal handing over, are part of a much larger picture of Anglican participation in the events of this Reformation year. Click here to continue reading.

Related Articles from Lighthouse Trails:

Rick Warren’s Dangerous Ecumenical Pathway to Rome And How One Interview Revealed So Much

Is Beth Moore’s “Spiritual Awakening” Taking the Evangelical Church Toward Rome?

“On Reformation Milestone, Experts Detect ‘Astounding’ Thirst For Unity”

Pope Francis, right, hugs the President of the Lutheran World Federation Bishop Munib Younan during an ecumenical prayer in the Lund Lutheran cathedral, Sweden, Monday, Oct. 31, 2016. (Credit: L’Osservatore Romano/Pool Photo via AP.)

LTRP Note: The following is posted for informational and research purposes and not as an endorsement of the source or the content.

By John L. Allen Jr.
Crux (Catholic publication)

Two experts on the Catholic/Lutheran relationship, one Catholic and the other Lutheran, both say that joint commemorations of today’s 500th anniversary of the launch of the Protestant Reformation reflect a strong yearning for unity in the grassroots, and may represent a new “springtime” in ecumenism, meaning the quest for Christian unity.

Five hundred years ago today, tradition has it, Martin Luther nailed his 95 theses on the door of the cathedral in Wittenberg, Germany, thereby triggering the Protestant Reformation that’s divided Western Christianity ever since.

Today, two experts on each side of that Catholic/Lutheran divide say what they detect in the trenches is an “astounding” thirst for unity. Click here to continue reading.

“Rick Warren, Calif. Bishop Hail Unity as Model for Evangelicals and Catholics to Follow”

LTRP Note: The following is posted for informational and research purposes and not as an endorsement of the source or the content.

“[Rick] Warren noted that union between the two traditions [Catholic and Protestant] can open the eyes of nonbelievers as well.”

“A Pew Research Center survey, released last month during the 500th anniversary year of the Reformation, showed that Catholics and Protestants today are not as divided on theological issues as they were centuries ago.”

2-second still shot from YouTube video of Bishop Vann and Rick Warren – September 2017; used in accordance with the US Fair Use Act.

By Stoyan Zaimov
The Christian Post

Megachurch pastor Rick Warren of Saddleback Church and California Roman Catholic Bishop Kevin Vann recently opened up about their years-long friendship and cooperation as a model for evangelicals and Catholics around the world to follow.

Crux Now shared an interview on Thursday, which was conducted by Pia de Solenni, a lay Catholic theologian and chancellor of the Orange County diocese, where Vann explained that his friendship with Warren began five years ago when they met at his installation.

“In the months and years that followed, I discovered the blessing of sharing the concerns of ministry with Rick, talking about our homilies and what we were both studying, and praying together. Our relationship has also been blessed to include Kay, his wife,” Vann explained.

“Also, Rick’s staff at Saddleback and our staff at the Diocese began to get to know each other through various meetings, sharing not only our common love for the Lord, but also our love for the Church, fellowship, and praying together.” Click here to continue reading.

Related Information:

 Rick Warren’s Dangerous Ecumenical Pathway to Rome And How One Interview Revealed So Much

RNS: UK’s Biggest Christian Festival to Showcase Islam

Attendees gather during the 2016 Greenbelt Festival at Boughton House in Northamptonshire, England. Photo courtesy of Greenbelt Festival

By Catherine Pepinster
Religion News Service

LONDON (RNS) — Greenbelt, the biggest Christian festival in the United Kingdom, will feature Muslim worship for the first time this year.
The decision by organizers of the annual festival — which began more than 40 years ago as a gathering that drew about 1,500 young people — has stirred some controversy, according to organizers.

Now Greenbelt draws a much larger crowd of about 20,000 over the August Bank Holiday weekend, Aug. 25-28, and offers not only music but also theological discussion and opportunities to work on social justice issues. While it sprung from evangelical Christians, in recent years Greenbelt  has expanded to include a much wider range of participants, including an occasional Muslim speaker. Click here to continue reading.

Related Reading

Chrislam – The Blending Together of Islam & Christianity by Mike Oppenheimer

A Further Unveiling of Assemblies of God Resolution 3 & the Serious Implications

Also see Part 1: “Commentary: Assembly of God (AOG) General Council to Vote on Resolution Against Israel ” and Part 2: “Dr. George Wood Responds to Lighthouse Trails Article on AoG Resolution 3 and Israel”

By Cedric Fisher
Truth Keepers

When I wrote my commentary on July 28th about the Assemblies of God Resolution 3, which will be voted on during the 57th Assemblies General Council (August 7-11th) in Anaheim, California, I was quite unprepared for the firestorm that ensued.(1) I was especially surprised by George Wood’s response.(2)

Remember that when Ruth Haley Barton (who is a powerful advocate for the New Age practice of contemplative prayer) was invited to speak at the AoG General Council in 2013, Dr. Wood defended the decision.(3) Furthermore, he has never expressed any public reluctance or regret in inviting Rick Warren (who promotes unity with the Catholic Church and contemplative practices) to speak at previous General Councils or this upcoming one. Rick Warren is also a signer of “A Common Word” Christian Response, a document where Christian leaders ask for forgiveness from “the All-Merciful One” (a Muslim term for Allah) and essentially say that the Christian God and Allah are the same God.(4) While Dr. Wood has been blasé and silent about Rick Warren, Mark Batterson (creator of the Circle Maker heresy),(5) and Priscilla Shirer(6) (popular contemplative speaker and author) speaking at the 57th General Council, he lost his composure regarding my commentary about Resolution 3. What was he so frantic about? Why did he expose himself as imperious and acerbic? Dr. Wood’s reaction indicates there might be more to the story. After further research, I believe there is indeed behind-the-scenes information that needs to be brought forth.

 Replacement Theology Activists and Their View of Israel

During this past week, after my commentary was released by Lighthouse Trails, I have spent hours digging through the Internet, reading documents, and talking to people, some of whom have had first-hand experience within AoG regarding the matters at hand. As a result, I have come to the conclusion that the Assemblies of God denomination is dangerously compromised with so-called “justice and peacemakers” that adhere to Replacement Theology (Supersessionism).(7) These “peacemakers” are in virtually every position of influence in the AoG including leadership at the national level, universities, colleges, seminaries, and missions. Their basic belief can be summed up as follows: The Israeli claim to Palestine as a Jewish State by divine right is incorrect, and their continued enforcement of this claim is unjust.

Resolution 3 (R3) is being supported by Replacement Theology activists (as has been documented in my previous commentary, in the pursuing response article by Lighthouse Trails, and will be further documented in this article). In essence, the resolution is anti-Zionist, which in itself stems from the age-old spirit of hatred for the Jews). Whether these activists realize this or not, this is disguised anti-Semitism.

Dr. David Reagan of Lamb and Lion Ministries explains:

Anti-Zionism is just anti-Semitism in new, sophisticated clothes. Whereas anti-Semitism sought to drive out the Jews from the lands where they lived, anti-Zionism refuses to accept their right to live in their own land.(8)

Of course, most Replacement Theology activists will not admit their true views about Israel publicly. Instead, they declare that they love and support Israel and even go there often. However, just as in secular politics, one has to read between the lines and decipher the doublespeak. In reality, they do not love and support the Israel that presently exists. They are, in deeds (and with words in certain venues), adamantly opposed to present-day Israel.

If they loved and supported Israel, they would not be involved in a mission to force her into conformity with something she is not (and something that would eventually destroy her). Furthermore, they would not deny her genetic heritage and legacy and attempt to erase her from eschatology. Last, they would not be teaching anti-Semitism, as some of them are, to unsuspecting generations of younger professing Christians.

What they truly love and support is a futuristic and completely transformed “Israel”—an “Israel” that does not yet exist. It is a model they have concocted to agree with their “peace” plan. They arrogantly believe that Israel does not know what’s best for her and that they must steer the nation into its peaceful destiny.

Their commitment is as saying, “I love and support you, but not as you are. You must change.” That is commitment with conditions, which is not love and support at all. It is coercion and extortion. Those conditions include kowtowing to Muslim and especially Palestinian demands. Capitulating to those requirements would indeed change Israel to meet the approval of her “fair-weather friends” in denomination leadership, and tenured at colleges and universities. But there is nothing to gain from such a commitment and much to lose.

While this is not God’s plan according to His Word, these “pacifists” alter, remove, replace, reinterpret, and otherwise manipulate God’s Word to conform with their definition of “justice and peacemaking,” one of their popular buzz phrases.

“But,” they insist, “we must have world peace.” And as Rick Warren has often said, we must do “whatever it takes” to accomplish that peace.(9)

But at what price? Alliance with haters of Israel? The sacrifice of truth? The price of twisting God’s Word to disenfranchise His chosen people? Will the price be a massive assault of many armies on the nation of Israel? If the latter occurs, supporters of false peace will soon realize Who they were offending.

What Are These “Justice and Peacemakers” Really About?

What exactly are these “justice and peacemakers really about? And what are some of their tactics? Let’s take a look at a couple of the individuals involved in this so-called “justice and peacemaking” movement who have influenced the Assemblies of God.

Consider Paul Alexander, author of Peace to War: Shifting Allegiances in the Assemblies of God. Alexander was a Pneuma Book Award finalist chosen by The Society for Pentecostal Studies, a bastion of Replacement Theology. He edits the Pentecostals, Peacemaking, and Social Justice book series. His bio says he is a Pentecostal “peacemaker and justice seeker” originally from Kansas. He was a Missions major at Southwestern Assemblies of God University, has a M.Div. from the Assemblies of God Theological Seminary, and a doctorate from Baylor University. He is currently professor of Christian ethics and public policy at Palmer Theological Seminary of Eastern University and the director of public policy for Evangelicals for Social Action.(10)

Alexander founded Pentecostals and Charismatics for Peace and Justice (PCPJ) with the mission “to encourage, enable, and sustain peacemaking and justice–seeking as authentic and integral parts of Pentecostal–Charismatic Christianity.”(11) If you wish to see a glimpse of the next generation of Pentecostals and charismatics that are now rising to leadership, check out PCPJ’s Facebook page.(12)

Alexander also edited the book, Christ at the Checkpoint: Theology in the Service of Justice and Peace, commissioned and written by Palestinian Christians. In the Series Preface, Alexander writes, “We understand that peace and justice are not separate concerns but different ways of talking about and seeking Shalom—God’s salvation, justice and peace.”(13) Alexander and his associates, the Palestinian Christians, believe that Israel does not have biblical heritage or a right to their land. Christ at the Checkpoint conferences, sponsored by Bethlehem Bible College featuring speakers such as emergent progressive leaders Lynne Hybels(14) and Tony Campolo,(15) have a distinct anti-Israel political agenda.

According to various sources, Bethlehem Bible College is steeped in Replacement Theology that encourages sympathy for the Palestinians. For example, a 2014 NGO Monitor article titled “U.S., U.K., Netherlands Fund Anti-Israel ‘Christ at the Checkpoint’ Conference,” said of the 2014 conference that Christ at the Checkpoint “seeks to advance the Palestinian nationalist agenda within Evangelical Christian churches, while simultaneously reviving theological anti-Semitic themes such as replacement theology.”(16)

And an article in the Jerusalem Post stated of Bethlehem Bible College:

The school has a deeply entrenched anti-Israel position, demonstrated through statements and publications of leaders associated with the school.(17)

Map of Middle East. Green indicates Muslim countries; Red is Israel

However, Alexander calls his book a “book of love.” He declares, “The Palestinian Christians who organized the conference at which these essays were presented are motivated by their love for God, love for Israelis, and love for their fellow Palestinians.”(18)

Alexander is no longer affiliated with the Assemblies of God. He was dismissed as a licensed AoG minister in 2014 for his changed views on homosexuality and acceptance of gay marriage.(19)But his dismissal had nothing to do with his anti-Israel efforts, which had begun long before 2014. So while the AoG was right in dismissing him for his pro-homosexual views, they apparently saw nothing wrong with his activism against Israel a number of years before that.

“This Land is . . . Your Land?”—The Dilemma of Ross Byars, R3’s Foremost Author

This brings me to J. Ross Byars, the apparent foremost author of Resolution 3. Byars is co-founder of the Jerusalem School of Bethlehem, of which students are predominantly Muslim. While the school focuses on giving Muslim youth a good education, “justice and peacemaking” is a major theme. Byars is known as an advocate of Replacement Theology. His rewrite of Woody Guthrie’s song “This Land is Your Land” leaves no doubt as to his position on Israel. Below are a few stanzas of this rewritten song:

It’s not just our land,
it’s also your land,
from the Rafah crossing
to the Northern Highland.
From the sandy seashore
to the tumbling Jordan,
this land is made for you and me. . . .
from the bubbling springs of Dan,
to Beersheba’s desert sand.
From the walls of the city,
to the snows of Hermon,
this land is made for you and me.(20)

You can watch a video of students at Jerusalem School of Bethlehem singing Byars rendition of the American song here: http://www.cppi.co/proactivities.html. Peter Yarrow (of the 60s singing group Peter, Paul, and Mary) is leading the group (also we have posted all the lyrics below this article).

In one verse, Byars postulates the concept that the Israelis and Palestinians are Arabs and their God is one:

So why these wars and fuss?
We’re you and you are us
We’re all one family,
this land’s one country.
We’re all Abram’s sons
Our God we serve is one,
Who made this land for you and me. (21)

Just hours before Lighthouse Trails released their response to George Wood’s comments about my first commentary,(22) Ross Byars called the office of Lighthouse Trails and spoke to one of its editors. He said that he is not anti-Israel but admitted he is for a two-state solution to the Israeli/Palestinian conflict, saying that even Israel is for it. The LT editor responded by saying that Israel is not for it but is being coerced and forced into it.

The two-state solution. I explained the difference in versions of two-state agreements in the Lighthouse Trails response to George Wood:

Some evangelical leaders insist there is nothing wrong with the Two-State Solution. They claim that Israel advocates a Two-State Solution. If that were true, then it would have already occurred and we would not be having this controversy. There is a vast difference between the versions of Two-State Solutions. Israel’s version could be summed up as, “You leave us alone, and we’ll leave you alone.” Conversely, the Two-State Solution advocated by certain evangelicals is to moderate a resolution between Israel and Palestine that involves Israel giving up the West Bank, its biblical heritage as God’s Chosen People, and other untenable concessions. There is an effort to dismiss Israel from eschatology and brand it as just another sinful nation.(23)

Those who are advocating a two-state solution are overlooking something: they are assuming that once Israel falls into step with what the world is demanding of them, then the Muslims, Palestinians, and everyone else will now love Israel and be kind to her. But why would people think that is going to happen?! Israel and the Jews have been hated throughout history, long before there was the modern-day nation of Israel. Hitler didn’t need that as an excuse. There was no nation of Israel, but still he hated them, he killed them, and leaders and people around the world turned a blind eye while six million Jews were annihilated. Today, there are only fourteen million Jews on the Earth. Those who know (and believe) their Bibles know that God’s adversary, the devil, has a vehement hate for the Jews (and the nation of Israel) and will stop at nothing to destroy them. Those who think that Muslim terrorists and enemies are going to love Israel if they agree to a two-state solution are living in a deadly bubble of delusion.

“Justice and peacemaker” Murray Dempster (one of the supporters/authors of R3) is a professor at Southeastern and an adherent of Replacement Theology as was shown in both my earlier commentary and the Lighthouse Trails response to George Woods. An online article titled “Liberal Theology at Assemblies of God University?” reports on enthusiastic student support for anti-Semitism at Southeastern:

[One] week they invited Sami Awad, a pro-Palestine advocate to guest lecture. The lecture had very anti-Semitic comments and at one point it was mentioned that Israel did not have a right to exist. The discussion became very disturbing.(24)

Awad is a so-called “justice and peacemaker” and executive Director of Holy Land Trust. His father, Bishara Awad, is the founder of the Bethlehem Bible College that sponsors Christ at the Checkpoint conferences. At the 2012 Christ at the Checkpoint conference, Sami Awad, MC for the event, supported Dr. Manfred Kohl who condemned another speaker, Wayne Hilsden, for his “literal reading of scripture” (where Hilsden stated that the “physical return of the Jews to their ancient homeland is biblically mandated”). Kohl said of Hilsden, “the theology of fools who delight in their own idiocy.” Awad suggested that it “was time for Christians who use the Bible to support Israel’s restoration to stand before the security wall in Bethlehem and, similar to John F. Kennedy before the Berlin Wall, declare, ‘I am an idiot.’”(25)

These remarks are far from peaceful. They are arrogant, provocative, and reveal the true nature of these “justice and peacemakers.” For a comprehensive, well-documented, and compelling documentary on “Christian Palestinianism” and its implications on Israel, watch Caryl Productions film Exposing Christian Palestinianism.(26)

Are “Justice and Peacemakers” Being Honest About Their True Purpose?

Throughout Replacement Theology activists’ literature and speeches, one becomes aware of a constant supposed theme of love, justice, peacemaking, etc. Their definition of love is not credible though because they are not being honest. Their explanation of “justice and peacemaking” is based on Replacement Theology. Their two-state solution is based on the claim that Israel does not have a right to her land, that she stole it from the Palestinians who are lovingly practicing justice and peacemaking by allowing Israel to keep a small tract of it.

It is a great shame that professing Christians resort to the same tactics as secular politicians and hide their true intent to reach their goals. God’s Word declares, let your yea be yea and your nay be nay (Matthew 5:37).  It is clearly a godly directive for Christians to be forthright and honest with our words. Instead, Replacement Theology activists use subterfuge and doublespeak to inch their way into leadership and positions of influence. Once in power, they oppress and take advantage of the very ones who trusted them with their offices.

When Assemblies of God pastors and leaders vote this coming week on Resolution 3, I pray they will understand that if they vote for R3, they will be helping to pave the way to legitimize and unleash a hoard of RT activists on Israel. I beseech these leaders not to be deceived by tactics that are not forthright or according to God’s Word. In addition, to vote for R3 is a vote against Israel, and this can only bring judgment upon Assemblies of God and even the church at large because many other evangelical groups will eventually follow suit in the AoG decision.

Jesus Christ warned that end-times deception would be so clever that the very elect could be deceived if that were possible. The apostle Paul wrote that those who do not have a “love of the truth . . . God shall send them strong delusion, that they should believe a lie” (2 Thessalonians 2:10-11). As committed believers in Jesus Christ, we need to be on guard against deception, which works because it is comfortable, is convincing, and appeals to the carnal mind of nominal Christians. Do not be deceived, beloved!

Endnotes:

1.Commentary: Assembly of God (AOG) General Council to Vote on Resolution Against Israel
2. Dr. George Wood Responds to Lighthouse Trails Article on AoG Resolution 3 and Israel
3. Assemblies of God General Superintendent Letter Responds to Lighthouse Trails Article – Defends Contemplative Spirituality
4. http://faith.yale.edu/common-word/common-word-christian-response
5. http://www.lighthousetrailsresearch.com/blog/?p=13869
6. See Beth Moore & Priscilla Shirer – Their History of Contemplative Prayer and Why War Room Should Not Have Used Them
7.  ISRAEL: REPLACING WHAT GOD HAS NOT
8. Dr. David R. Reagan, “The Evil of Replacement Theology: The Historical Abuse of the Jews by the Church,” Lion and Lamb Ministries, http://christinprophecy.org/articles/the-evil-of-replacement-theology/.
9.Time Magazine on Rick Warren’s New Global Reformation and PEACE Coalition
10. https://sojo.net/biography/paul-alexander
11. https://pcpjtest.wordpress.com/about/
12. https://www.facebook.com/pcpeacejustice/
13. Paul Alexander, Christ at the Checkpoint: Theology in the Service of Justice and Peace (Eugene, OR: Wipf and Stock Publishers, 2012), Series Preface.
14. Jim Fletcher, “Lynne Hybel’s God” (http://www.lighthousetrailsresearch.com/blog/?p=17590)
15. See “2010 Film ‘With God on Our Side’ – Championed by Jim Wallis, Tony Campolo, Brian McLaren & Steve Haas (World Vision) – Has Changed the Minds of Evangelicals”
16. Sean Savage, “NGO Monitor: U.S., U.K., Netherlands Fund Anti-Israel ‘Christ at the Checkpoint’ Conference” (http://www.algemeiner.com/2014/03/12/ngo-monitor-u-s-u-k-netherlands-fund-anti-israel-%E2%80%98christ-at-the-checkpoint%E2%80%99-conference/)
17. Tricia Miller, “Bethlehem Bible College—Purveyor of Anti-Israel Propaganda” (Jerusalem Post, October 26, 2014, http://www.jpost.com/Christian-News/Bethlehem-Bible-College-purveyor-of-anti-Israel-propaganda-379858)
18. Paul Alexander, Christ at the Checkpoint, op. cit., Preface.
19. https://www.onenewsnow.com/church/2014/02/17/ag-disciplines-pastor-who-departs-from-biblical-truth and http://www.evangelicalsforsocialaction.org/sexual-justice/esa-statement-on-the-dismissal-of-paul-alexander-by-the-assemblies-of-god.
20. http://www.cppi.co/proactivities.html
21. Ibid.
22. Dr. George Wood Responds to Lighthouse Trails Article on AoG Resolution 3 and Israel
23. Ibid.
24. Chelsen Vicari, “Liberal Theology at Assemblies of God University?” (Juicy Ecumenism: The Institute on Religion & Democracy blog, December 18, 2014, https://juicyecumenism.com/2014/12/18/squishy-theology-assembly-gods-southeastern-university).
25. Jan Markell, “‘Checked’ at the Checkpoint” (March 15, 2012, http://archive.constantcontact.com/fs019/1101818841456/archive/1109521345222.html).
26. This incredible film is available through Lighthouse Trails. Every church and church group should watch this film! (http://www.lighthousetrails.com/home/454-exposing-christian-palestinianism-dvd.html)

Appendix:

Transcript of Ross Byars rewrite of Woody Guthrie’s song, “This Land is Your Land.”

As I was walking that ribbon of highway,
I saw above me that endless skyway.
I saw below me that golden valley,
this land is made for your and me.
I roamed and rambled
and I followed my footsteps,
to the sparkling sands of her diamond deserts.
And all around me a voice was sounding,
this land is made for you and me.

Chorus

It’s not just our land,
it’s also your land,
from the Rafah crossing
to the Northern Highland.
From the sandy seashore to the tumbling Jordan,
this land is made for you and me.
As I was walking I saw a wall there.
A great big sign said, “Our people only.”
But on the other side it didn’t say “Nothing.”
Now that side is made for you and me.
In the towns and cities, at church and temple.
By shrine and mosque I saw the people
As they stood hating, and I stood crying,
“This land is made for you and me.”

Chorus

It’s not just our land, it’s also your land,
from the bubbling springs of Dan
To Beersheba’s desert sand.
From the walls of the city
To the snows of Hermon,
this land is made for you and me
Nobody living can ever stop us,
as we go walking our true peace highway
No wall or weapon can make us turn back,
‘cause this land is made for you and me.
So why these wars and fuss?
We’re you and you are us
We’re all one family, this land’s one country.
We’re all Abram’s sons
Our God we serve is one,
Who made this land for you and me

Chorus

It’s not just our land,
it’s also your land,
from the Rafah crossing
to the Northern Highland.
From the sandy seashore
to the tumbling Jordan.
This land is made for you and me.

Commentary: Assembly of God (AOG) General Council to Vote on Resolution Against Israel

Also see Part 2: “Dr. George Wood Responds to Lighthouse Trails Article on AoG Resolution 3 and Israel ” and Part 3: “A Further Unveiling of Assemblies of God Resolution 3 & the Serious Implications”

By Cedric Fisher
Truth Keepers

During the 57th Assemblies of God General Council in Anaheim, California, August 7-11, 2017, the denomination’s membership will vote on Resolution 3. The Resolution is presented as an affirmation that the church should be involved in peace-keeping through conflict resolution. One is compelled to ask why such a resolution is needed. As most denominations, the AoG already has bylaws and leadership positions that promote peace and engage in conflict resolution within the denomination. Apparently, Resolution 3 proposes to involve the membership in the affairs of races, religions, and nations outside the denomination.

The General Council of the Assemblies of God, district councils, and local churches should be involved in conflict resolution between churches, denominations, races, religions, and countries. We believe justice and peacemaking are necessary complements of compassion ministries, and this should be clearly stated in our Constitution. – Resolution 3, 57th General Council, August 7-11, 2017, Anaheim, California.

Some members are deeply concerned that the Resolution will weaken and perhaps obliterate the denominations support for Israel. I believe they have good cause for concern. The leadership has already approved two position papers, “Church Mission and Peacemaking” and “Israel – the Church’s Response,” both which negatively affect Israel. Those position papers are essential to understanding the consequences of passing Resolution 3. (correction: The “Israel – the Church’s Response is not a position paper, but rather is an AoG article listed under AoG Beliefs “based upon [AoG] common understanding of scriptural teaching.”

Old Town Jerusalem (Photo: bigstockphoto.com; used with permission

The New Paradigm
The amalgamation of those position papers and Resolution 3 would establish a new paradigm regarding the denomination’s view and treatment of Israel. The new paradigm aligns with the emerging consensus of significant leaders in Christianity that insists Israel’s biblical-based claims are responsible for unrest in the Mideast. They are further convinced that evangelical support for Israel erroneously strengthens those claims. Their solution is to diminish that support, express sympathy with Muslims and Palestinians, and pressure Israel to relinquish her biblical entitlements. This is evident in the insidious statement in “Israel – the Church’s Response”:

And many Christians outside Israel seem bent on assisting God in fulfilling His prophesied blessing on His chosen people. – “Israel – the Church’s Response”

That reads like something right out of a political Progressive emergent handbook. It implies that “Christians outside Israel” are deceived or misguided. By whom? Israel? We are not misguided, but informed by God’s word. Conversely, agreeing with or sympathizing with Israel’s enemies actually assists Satan in fulfilling his plan to oppress and annihilate Israel.

In “Church Mission and Peacemaking” under the section, “Biblical Directives for Peacemaking,” the paper mentions Israel’s historical apostasies and makes this provocative statement:

The great writing prophets of the Old Testament severely condemned the dreadful social exploitation and injustice of the kingdoms of Israel and Judah in their prosperous but declining years.

The references makes it clear that the authors consider Israel to be the problem in accomplishing peace because of their steadfast refusal to accept the demands of her enemies.

The new paradigm further emerges in the following statement:

Because of the contribution of the patriarchs, of Jesus, and of the Jewish disciples to our Christian faith, the Church is often viewed as being pro-Israel, and therefore anti-Palestinian. But we must never forget our Christian Palestinian brothers and sisters who suffer great terrors and hurts. But neither should we forget the Jewish Christians and others who are caught in this conflict. We must remember that millions on both sides of this end-times conflict need to come to a faith in Jesus Christ. – “Israel – the Church’s Response”

Because of what the Scriptures tell us, we as Christian believers must stand by Israel and the Jewish people. That does not mean that a Christian is against Palestinians who are genuine Christians. However, we must be opposed to any attempt to oppress or destroy Israel or divest her of biblical entitlements. Today, we are witnessing a fast-growing change in attitude by Christian groups around the world toward Israel and the Jews, one that is fueling anti-Semitism and a general animosity toward them.

Rick Warrens P.E.A.C.E. plan
The new paradigm also appears to align with Rick Warren’s P.E.A.C.E. plan and his concept of “religious pluralism.” Warren’s idea is that Muslims and Christians should be partners in working to end what he calls “the five global giants.” One of the things Warren asks is how can Christians and Muslims work together to bring peace to the world? The answer is by one or both religions to compromise their belief systems and scheme to delegitimize Israel.

Warren’s overtures to Muslims and tenure on the Council of Foreign Relation should discredit him as a model of Christian leadership. However, the extent of his acceptance by AoG leaders is astounding and perplexing. AoG General Superintendent George O. Wood and other leaders of the denomination appear enamored with Warren to the extent they are virtually subservient. That adulation is also prevalent among the younger ministers. Many of the same individuals are covertly or overtly involved in ecumenism. Could that be the reason for a steady effort to bring the denomination into compliance with Warren’s worldview? A necessary step would be to publically express sympathy with Palestinians and Muslims.

Resolution 3 is an attempt to present a more powerful statement of disassociation with Israel. Clearly, the AoG leadership rejects the biblical view that Israel plays a special role in God’s eschatological plan. It appears they have bought into the politics of the political Progressives, the Seeker/Emergents, and Rick Warren’s worldview. Whatever their motivation, it is without a doubt not founded on a biblical mandate.

Is There a Biblical Basis for Peace in the End Times?
The questions are, “Can anyone except Christ achieve peace on earth and should that be the church’s mission in these last days?” Every student of eschatology understands that “war and rumors of war” is a prophetic sign of the end times. A companion sign is that all nations will oppose Israel. Sympathizing with Israel’s enemies to end war encourages aggression against Israel. The authors of Resolution 3 extend that sympathy under the guise of an alleged biblical mandate for “the Church” to be involved in peacekeeping between nations. Any peace that could come out of such an effort will be false peace, which is one of the deceptions Antichrist will foist on the world.

Resolution 3 authors attempt to provide a scriptural base for their claims:

However, the Scriptures strongly support conflict resolution as an appropriate method to obtain peace when one is wronged or has wronged another. – Resolution 3

All the biblical references they provide for support of the Resolution are primarily about personal relationships and harmony among God’s people. Also, consider that none of the verses concern eschatology. The verses they use cannot be co-opted to endorse sympathy for Israel’s enemies without violating the spirit of the exegesis. The authors are, in fact, using God’s Word to support spiritually fatal compromise. Further, I must point out that rejecting Israel’s claims that are solidly based on unambiguous Scriptures, while establishing a contradictory narrative based on ambiguous scriptural references, is patently duplicitous. It is the stuff of heresy.

Christ declared that He did not come to bring peace (Matthew 10:34). There cannot be peace between light and darkness. There can be no peace or ecumenism between diabolical religions and true Christianity. Neither will there be peace between Israel and her enemies. Let us not forget that God’s adversary, Satan, hates Christians, and he hates the Jews and Israel.

Additionally, peace cannot exist in a community when a church takes upon itself to solve every conflict. God’s Word actually has something to say about that bad decision:

He that passeth by, and meddleth with strife belonging not to him,is like one that taketh a dog by the ears. – Proverbs 26:17

Authors of Resolution 3

Finally, it is important to consider the authors of Resolution 3. It was difficult to discover if all of them were credentialed with the Assemblies of God. References to being AoG ministers or working in organizations connected to the denomination are missing in most of the source material.

The chairperson of the Resolution committee is Donald H, Detrick. Detrick’s wife, Jodie Detrick, is a Life Coach and supporter of contemplative spirituality. Mrs. Detrick wrote the AoG defense of inviting New Age guru Ruth Haley Barton to speak at the General Council in Orlando, Florida.

Concerning the authors of Resolution 3, the following is a sampling of information easily available on the Internet:

J. Ross Byars: Co-founder of Jerusalem School Bethlehem on the West Bank, “Impacting the Arab World with the message of hope through education.” The school delivers to mostly Palestinian youth the “Good News of the Gospel delivered through a culturally-relevant lens.” The pacifism of Martin Luther King, Nelson Mandela, and Mahatma Gandhi are taught. The schools “takes an ecumenical approach because most of its students are Muslims.” – Haaretz.com, “Think Palestinian Schools Preach Violence? Visit This One,” July 22, 2017

Furthermore, JSB teaches a mystical teaching, the concept of the ‘inner eye,’ from Rabbi Abraham Isaac Kook, Kabbalist and the first Ashkenazi chief rabbi in British Mandatory Palestine. – ibid

Robert E. Cooley: President Emeritus and former Professor of Biblical Studies and Archaeology of Gordon-Conwell Theological Seminar. Dr. Cooley was a consultant on the merging of the Assemblies of God schools in Springfield. I advise individuals to watch his YouTube video about the leadership challenges of globalization and social diversification of communities, “Evangelical Leadership in the 21st Century” January 30, 2015. I also encourage reading “The Future of the Christian University: An Interview with Dr. Robert E. Cooley” on Pathos.com. Cooley advocates a new paradigm by Christianity regarding its association with nations and religions. His involvement with Resolution 3 defines more clearly what he means by that advocacy.

Murray W. Dempster: Professor of Social Ethics, Southeastern University, Lakeland, Florida. Author of Christian Concern in Pentecostal Perspective: Reformulating Pentecostal Eschatology, Called and Empowered: Global Mission in Pentecostal Perspective, and other books.

Robert W. Houlihan: Professor of Practical Ministry and Missions at Southwestern University. Houihan wrote, “Another area that has caused some concerns for Pentecostals in recent years is the realization that the early Pentecostals overemphasized evangelism and neglected cultural sensitivity and the social and justices issues for the poor. . . . More recently Pentecostal scholars such as Murray Dempster have created a framework to help missionaries reflect on the biblical text and provide them with a social ethic to undergird their social practices.” – Robert Houlihan; “Theological Education in a Cross-Cultural Context: Essays in Honor of John and Bea Carter; Accessing Missional Ministries in the Pentecostal Church: A Trial of Overemphasis on Evangelism.”

Nam Soo Kim: Pastor of Promise Church and Promise Ministries International, Seoul, South Korea. PMI considers itself as a ministry to the world’s 1.85 billion children. Not much is publically known about Kim. I could not discover any significant involvement or contributions to the AoG. As with most of the other authors, he seems to be involved with activity outside of the denomination.

Russell P. Spittler: Senior professor of New Testament at Fuller Theological Seminary. Author of Perspectives on the New Pentecostalism, Charismatic Christianity as a Global Culture, and other books. Spittler wrote in support of Murray Dempster’s book, Called and Empowered: Global Mission in Pentecostal Perspective: “An unprecedented mix of pentecostal theology and mission practice, virtually a manifesto for pentecostal missions. . . . The fullest and finest missiological treatise originating within classical Pentecostalism available.”–Russell P. Spittler

Prophecy is Being Fulfilled
In conclusion, I must point out that Rome changed the name of Judea to Palestine in 136 A.D. Islam did not arrive until about the 7th century A.D. Christianity is a religion that originated with a Jewish man, Christ Jesus the Son of God. The church is established on Jewish disciples of Christ with Him as the Cornerstone. Historically and evidentiary, there is no basis for any attempt to dispose Israel of her biblical heritage and rights.

Therefore, to embrace the Palestinian and Muslim cause and reject Israel is, in essence, to be anti-Semitic. Thus, the AoG’s positions papers and Resolution 3 is oxymoronic in presentation and factitious in intent. It is an effort to unite the 60 million-member worldwide denomination with other denominations and political groups that are openly hostile to Israel. That is not peace keeping, but quite the opposite. It is meddling in affairs that the true church, the Body of Christ, has no biblical mandate to become involved in. Furthermore, it is compromise of the worst sort during the worst period in Israel’s history and likely to help trigger an unprecedented military attack on Israel.

What we are witnessing is the formation of the False Prophet’s global church and the dark kingdom of Antichrist. Prophecy is racing toward fulfillment. Christianity’s leaders and theologians are more concerned about the relevance of Christianity, its political position in the world system, and the numerical value of Christendom than about standing uncompromisingly for God’s truth. I do believe that some professing Christians feel intense pressure to compromise and thereby avoid being ostracized or even persecuted.

It is time to wake up and heed God’s Word. Love for truth is dissipating as fog in the morning sun. Convenient yet false interpretations of God’s Word are being duplicitously presented as new truth. The resulting false conclusions are leading to a dangerous and perhaps eternally fatal pragmatism.

Related Material:

ISRAEL: REPLACING WHAT GOD HAS NOT

Reminder: What Lighthouse Trails Believes About Israel and the Jews

The Berean Call Conference: Israel in the Line of Fire

World Vision Cries “Reform” – But What About Israel and the Emerging Church – The Story Behind the Story

DVD Exposes “Christian Palestinianism” and the Evangelical Leaders Promoting It


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